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Should Drug Stores Stop Selling Tobacco?

Recently, the CVS chain announced that it will no longer sell tobacco products in their stores. Their decision comes at a loss, however, as CVS estimates their ban on tobacco products will cost the company $2 billion a year in profits.

We recently caught up with Frank Leone, MD, MS, associate professor of medicine and director of Penn's comprehensive smoking treatment programs, to ask what he thought of CVS's newsworthy decision.

What do you think about the decision CVS made to not sell tobacco products?

It's great. Honestly, it's the kind of thing that suggests to me large corporate organizations have a tremendous capacity to influence societal norms. CVS is being extremely brave stepping out in front to say we are not going to sell cigarettes.

Do you think large corporations have a responsibility to not sell tobacco products?

Frank Leone

Each of us has our own little piece of responsibility.

Though cigarettes were never lauded as healthy, by the 1940s and 50s rumors were all around that smoking was hurting people. Smoking was presented as dangerous, but it was also an adult's right to smoke. Pharmacies and corner stores had a hard time not selling tobacco.

CVS's decision to not sell tobacco products brings the topic, front of mind, that we all have some level of responsibility. What we do or say can influence the likelihood of increased tobacco use in the future. CVS is taking a stand, and they are going to accept their small part of their responsibility of the tobacco epidemic.

Should also stop selling other products that can affect health, like junk food?

These type of arguments deflect from the reality that nicotine is one of the most addictive compounds we know. Nicotine alters brain chemistry in order to change behaviors, irrevocably. We're not talking about whether or not it's a matter of preference or self-determination, nicotine exposure causes more deaths, disabilities and disappointments than any other thing.

What do you think of CVS's decision? Would you like to see other retailers ban tobacco?

Quit Smoking with Penn

Penn Medicine's Comprehensive Smoking Treatment Program works hard to help smokers and their families understand why they feel trapped and powerless to change. The team tries to understand the specific needs of every smoker, whether it relates to health, family, work, or other aspects of their lives.

The program is based on the belief that smokers deserve to quit comfortably, so the treatment tends to be aggressive with medications in a way that helps keep that “devil inside” quiet. Most of all, the team respects the problem for what it is. And they respect the people struggling to find a way out from under it.

Specialists in Penn's Comprehensive Smoking Treatment Program have been fortunate to help thousands of patients overcome nicotine addiction over the years, and it's amazingly rewarding. Patients keep in touch with the program throughout the years. Our staff answers their questions, provides them with support during difficult times, and helps them to get right back on track if they relapse.

Call the Penn Comprehensive Smoking Treatment Program for help with your nicotine addiction, even if you don't feel ready to quit. The staff is happy to answer your questions and discuss your options. No hassle. No pressure. Just help. 800-789-7366 (PENN).

About This Blog

The Focus on Cancer blog discusses a variety of cancer-related topics, including treatment advances, research efforts and clinical trials, nutrition, support groups, survivorship and patient stories.

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